The Case of the Sabotaged Parachute is the third short story in the sixth anthology of Biggles Air Police short stories entitled Biggles Presses On. The anthology was first published in January, 1958.
The son of an ex-RAF flight sergeant finds a parachute in the woods. His father sees something suspicious when he notices that the cords have been cut and calls Scotland Yard. Inspector Gaskin calls in Biggles because of the aviation angle and together they uncover a murder plot by partners of an international gun-running gang.
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Flight Sergeant Betts, an ex-R.A.F. airman turned dog breeder calls Scotland Yard. His son Len Betts has found a parachute in the New Forest. The cords had been cut, indicating the likelihood of a murder attempt. Gaskin, Biggles and Ginger decide to search the area near where the parachute had been found. The body of the victim might be some distance away but they think the murderer would be searching for the parachute to remove the incriminating evidence. Len confirmed that he had seen a man in the area that morning.
Biggles borrows an Alsatian from Sergeant Betts and gives it a whiff of the parachute. The dog is soon off and runs into a man in town clothes in the forest who angrily demands that the dog be removed or he will shoot it. Ginger follows him and notes the licence number as he drives off in a Jaguar. Nearby the dog next finds a body. All identification had been removed but there is a scar over an eye and a tattoo with a French word "destin". These two marks are enough for Marcel Brissac to identify the body as that of Raoul Dubroc, a Foreign Legion deserter and fugitive. He had become involved with a gun runnning gang and been arrested. He was given certain liberties if he would reveal the name of his gang leader but instead Raoul had taken the opportunity to escape and rejoin the gang. Meanwhile, the Jaguar is identified as belonging to one Louis Brand, a nightclub owner who always seemed to have a lot of money but the police could never pin anything on him. Brand owned a country house, Dawfield Manor in Hampshire and Biggles decides to visit the place.
Gaskin, Biggles and Ginger and some other detectives first break into a large side building where they find a French aircraft, an Aubert Cigale Major. In the garage they find the Jaguar with a parachute harness in the boot. Having enough evidence, Gaskin now raids the main house where they arrest Brand and a French pilot named Leroux. Leroux and Brand had conflicting stories about what happened but they did at least agree on the preamble. The gang had wanted to send Dubroc to England to prevent him from talking to the police so he was scheduled to fly with Brand and, following the gang's M.O. parachute into the gang's base at Dawfield Manor. Dubroc saw that Brand was carrying a large sum of money and planned to kill Brand to seize it for himself and so cut Brand's parachute cords. The accounts now diverged. According to Brand, it was Leroux who mixed the parachutes and gave the tampered one to Dubroc. Leroux, on the other hand, claimed Brand had deliberately exchanged parachutes. Over the New Forest, Brand had asked Leroux to simulate an aircraft emergency. Brand had shouted to Dubroc to jump and he had done so, to his death.
The conflicting accounts might have saved Brand from a murder charge but there was enough evidence in Dawfield Manor to convict him for dealing in illegal traffic in arms, drugs and foreign currency and Brand landed a 16 year jail sentence. Leroux was extradited to France where he was charged with treason.
The Special Air PoliceEdit
- Ginger Hebblethwaite
- Inspector Gaskin
- Flight Sergeant Betts
- Len Betts
- Marcel Brissac
- Raoul Dubroc
- Louis Brand
- Sir Roy Wilton
- Dell Farm, near Sway, in the New Forest
- Dawfield Manor, Hampshire